Roush Review: Sherlockian Slapstick in ‘Year of the Rabbit’
Having killed it as a blustery vampire on FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, master clown Matt Berry takes on Sherlockian slapstick in IFC’s latest import, Year of the Rabbit, a merrily grody send-up of Victorian crime clichés.
He’s the brawling, boozing Detective Inspector Rabbit, a mutton-chopped misanthrope in a rat-eat-rat world. Why’s he missing an eyebrow? You don’t even need to ask. You may lose count of how often he brings up the fact that a dog chewed it off last Christmas.
This mangy Rabbit, whose heart tends to stop mid-chase, is none too pleased to be saddled with a green criminologist sidekick, Wilbur Strauss (Freddie Fox), who’s woefully lacking in street smarts: “We can’t arrest you if you keep running,” he whines to one perp. They’re joined by the chief’s bawdy and foul-mouthed daughter, Mabel (Susan Wokoma), who’s determined to be London’s first female copper: “I’m your man,” she boasts. “Who isn’t a man.”
There is a plot, of sorts, with a lurking conspiracy orchestrated by a mystery woman (the ubiquitous Keeley Hawes). But Rabbit lives and dies by its jokes, which fly fast and furious, including a running gag of street urchins hawking unsavory fare: “Twigs in a bun, treat for the kids!” Where this falls on your own personal taste threshold may depend on how funny you find another of their recurring acquaintances: an avaricious “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick (David Dawson), who’s known to crow, “Merrick don’t freak for free.”
Yes, it’s that kind of farce.
Year of the Rabbit,Premiere, Wednesday, February 19, 10:30/9:30c, IFC